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Site Of The Murder Of Dr. John Marsh

4616 Pacheco Blvd, Martinez, CA 94553, United States


John Marsh, the first Harvard graduate and the first to practice medicine there was an early explorer and settler in Alta California (June 5, 1799 in South Danvers, Massachusetts, September 24, 1856 in Pacheco, California). He knew Hebrew, Latin and Greek, and was the first to compile a Sioux language dictionary. He became one of California's richest ranchers, and was one of the most prominent men in the establishment of statehood in California.


John Marsh House


Marsh soon started constructing a splendid home entirely made of stone quarried from the surrounding hills. Abby chose the site of the house near Marsh Creek, a few miles south of the present town of Brentwood, California, with a fine view of the surrounding valley and Mount Diablo. The 7,000 square feet (650 m2) Gothic-Revival style house, designed by San Francisco architect Thomas Boyd, incorporated a tower of 65 feet (20 m) and an exterior porch supported by octagonal pillars. It did not exceed $20,000 for the total cost of the house. However, Abby died in 1855, before the Stone House was built. Around three weeks before he was killed, Marsh finally moved into the new building.


The ranch and stone house in which they lived, his son and daughter inherited, but apparently, let the property fall into disrepair and decay, and eventually became tenants. In May, 1862, William Henry Brewer and the California Geological Survey visited them.


As part of the Marsh Creek State Park, formerly known as Cowell Ranch/John Marsh Property State Historic Park, which is planning to apply for recognition as a National Historic Monument, the mansion still stands. 3,659 acres (1,481 ha) of natural forest are included in the park. The mansion is on the National Historical Places list.


The Cowell Foundation (founded by the industrialist S. H. Cowell) donated the house and surrounding land to the county in 1960, with the expectation that the house would be restored. It is now part of the State Park of Marsh Creek, which is not open to the public. The building has not been repaired, and awaits financing.




In California politics, Marsh was influential. On September 24, 1856, for a personal or political appointment, he started a journey from his land in eastern Contra Costa County to San Francisco. He was ambushed and murdered on the road between Pacheco and Martinez by three of his vaquero employees over a dispute over their salaries. 10 years later, two of the murderers were found and taken to justice. One man turned the state's evidence around and was released without trial. The other was convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment, but 25 years later he was pardoned. They never caught the third man. The site of the murder is now marked by a California Historical Landmark (#722) plaque.


In Mountain View Cemetery, in Oakland, California, both John and Abigail Marsh are buried.

Site Of The Murder Of Dr. John Marsh

Concord, California is blessed with many interesting historical landmarks that are worth a visit:

  • Don Salvio Pacheco Adobe 

  • Concord Historical Society

  • Don Fernando Pacheco Adobe 

  • Galindo Home Museum & Gardens

  • Port Chicago Naval Magazine National Memorial

  • Todos Santos Plaza

  • Markham Regional Arboretum

  • Newhall Community Park  

All of these wonderful landmarks are located just a short distance from our location located at 111 Arthur Road in Martinez, California! Stop by for a visit anytime!

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